When Pilgrim’s Pride first introduced the EatWellStayHealthy product line in April 2005, company chairman Bo Pilgrim observed that consumers want healthy foods but are unwilling to trade off convenience or taste to get it. That heart healthy line of products, which promises good taste and convenience, now includes EatWellStayHealthy Kids breaded chicken nuggets and breaded popcorn chicken. The baked nuggets are the first to feature the USDA-regulated word “healthy” on the packaging. Both products are also certified by the American Heart Association (AHA) with its “heart-check mark” seal of approval.

“Our new breast nuggets and popcorn chicken are a convenient and healthy food choice for families with kids,” said Lonnie “Bo” Pilgrim, chairman of Pilgrim’s Pride. “Our company has always been interested in promoting healthy lifestyles and diet, and we’re excited to offer healthy new choices for families.”

All products in the EatWellStayHealthy line are made from whole-muscle chicken breast meat and contain zero trans fats. These products have less than half the calories, half the carbohydrates and 80 percent less fat per serving than the leading national brand. The products also are approved for Child Nutrition Labeling, a voluntary federal labeling program for the USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs.

Acknowledging the challenge involved in delivering good taste in healthy products, Pilgrim’s Pride Vice President of Marketing Dan Emery said the company worked closely with seasoning suppliers and food scientists to get the formulation right on the EatWellStayHealthy Kids line. One formulation challenge – keeping sodium low while still delivering good taste – is solved through the use of bolder seasonings.

To be certified by the American Heart Association, a product must meet all of the following nutritional levels, which are based on a standard serving size as specified by the FDA for an individual food. A serving of the food product must:

-Be low in fat (less than or equal to 5 grams)

-Be low in saturated fat (less than or equal to 2 grams)

-Be low in cholesterol (less than or equal to 95 milligrams)

-Have a sodium value of less than or equal to 480 milligrams for individual foods

-Contain at least 10 percent of the Daily Value of one or more of these naturally occurring nutrients: protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron or dietary fiber.

To use the USDA-regulated word, ‘healthy,’ a product must meet all of the following nutritional levels, which are based on a standard serving size as specified for an individual food. A serving of the food product must:

-Be low in fat (less than or equal to 3 grams)

-Be low in saturated fat (less than or equal to 1 gram)

-Be low in cholesterol (less than or equal to 60 milligrams)

-Have a sodium value of less than or equal to 360 milligrams for individual foods

-Contain at least 10 percent of the Daily Value of one or more of these naturally occurring nutrients: protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron or dietary fiber.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the number of overweight or obese children has more than doubled in the past 30 years, and 17 percent of children ages two to 19 are overweight.